Will he ever stop spinning over Sunday parking?

Yesterday after watching on the BBC Breakfast show Westminster Council’s cabinet member for parking Lee Rowley you may have thought you were watching a sketch from Little Britain. As we saw the comparison between the utterly charmless stage hypnotist Kenny Craig character and Councillor Rowley attempting to justify the introduction of more eye wateringly high parking charges for evenings and weekends in the West End.

Lee Rowley

Lee Rowley

Rowley gave several live interviews on the BBC’s nationally broadcast morning show, Breakfast. It was more a case of “Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don’t look around my eyes, look into my eyes, you’re under.” Rather than any unequivocal facts to justify the Councils proposed Sunday and weekday evening parking charges. There was more spin coming from Cllr Rowley than a Warnie wrong ‘un.

The amount of misdirection emanating from this apprentice politician was truly disappointing, as Rowley continued to deny that the charges were anything to do with revenue raising.

The Breakfast BBC presenter Simon Jack asked Cllr Rowley “Are you seriously telling us this is not about revenue and that people have been crying out to ease the traffic flow on a Sunday by introducing charging?”

Rowley ducks the question by replying “We’ve put several hundred pages of evidence and investigations on our website and ultimately we’re not the first to do this we’ve held off for 17 years since the changes to Sunday trading to see whether this problem would resolve itself.”

Rowley using a well worn trick not answering the question by irrelevantly claiming that Westminster Council are not the first to bring in a Sunday tax on the motorist. So what, two wrongs do not make a right!  Just show us all the letters the Council have received requesting the introduction of seven day a week parking charges.

Councillor Rowley also claimed “We found on a Sunday afternoon there are more cars parking in a very small part of central London than there are during the week days and ultimately people can’t get out to visit and to deliver and people can’t find spaces to park.“

Claiming that cars are bumper to bumper and it was difficult to drive down the streets in central Westminster has been repeated many times by Cllr Rowley. This is not only disputed by residents, visitors and shopkeepers but also by the ward Councillor who actually lives in the affected area, Glenys Roberts.

We took a camera out last Sunday to see what the streets were like in two of the zones (F & E) that Councillor Rowley said are so jammed packed. Not only is it difficult to get down the streets but hard to find a parking space at all he’d have us believe.

What we did find was that the Council over the last few years have taken away many of the single yellow lines, replacing them with either double yellow lines or 24 hour resident only parking bays (a lot of which remained empty). We also noticed that a significant number of free spaces were lost to various utilities company road works along with large amounts of previously free parking space swallowed up by the Cross Rail works.

But despite all of the road works and the Councils own efforts to create a demand by painting in more double yellow lines, there were still lots of free spaces to park. This was at a time when Councillor Rowley is claiming the streets are busier than a weekday rush hour.

Click to view a slide show of the photos we took

Where less is more

Councillor Rowley stated on national television What we found was that there are more cars parking on a Sunday afternoon than there was during the week days” he also claimed “one of the problems which we’ve seen is that something like 2000 more cars parking in the centre of London on a Sunday afternoon than there is during the week.”

The Councils own occupancy survey ( download here ) that Cllr Rowley refers to as part of the evidence backing up his statements shows that rather than being 2000 more cars there is actually 159 less cars on a Sunday afternoon.

Nutsville has asked Cllr Rowley if he can provide us with any other figures to backup his claims, but so far he’s not replied.

Cllr Rowley’s claims that people cannot find spaces to park is at odds with the Council own occupancy survey. The survey reveals that the overall parking occupancy for Sundays during the proposed charging times have a 50% occupancy or less, except for zone F6. Zone F6 is still not critically full with just a 72% occupancy rate.

Subzone Sun 1100-1500
E1 47%
F3 50%
F6 72%
G1 46%
G2 42%

There are less cars parking in the evenings now than there were in 2006

Cllr Rowley’s case for introducing evening charges in zones E and G is also disputed by the Councils occupancy survey.

The occupancy survey compares how many cars are parked in all of the zones in 2011 to how many were parked in 2006.

For Zone E the survey concludes;

Evening occupancy rates demonstrate significant reductions at all types of parking place. Significant reductions were recorded at resident and pay for bays. Overnight again illustrates a reduction in parking demand across the board.

For Zone G the survey concludes;

Evening and overnight occupancy rates demonstrate small overall reductions in parking demand compared to 2006.

Yet even though the evidence from his own Council tells him the trend is for less cars parking in zones E and G  in the evenings he is still considering slapping on a charge for evening weekday parking.

Councillor Rowley has no figures in the survey to compare Sunday afternoons with from 2006, yet he still said “we’ve held off for 17 years since the changes to Sunday trading to see whether this problem would resolve itself.” How does he know there is a problem if he has not figures to compare with?

What’s the problem Councillor Rowley?

We maintain that the Councils parking department has an £8m deficit largely caused by senior officer mismanagement. If Cllr Rowley approves the proposals the Council will be in for a bumper harvest of parking tickets when the tax goes live planned for 1st December 2011 as thousands of Christmas shoppers and tourist will be caught out by the new charges. At least the Church congregations should be forewarned.

Unless Councillor Rowley can come up with some new figures why should people not conclude that if he introduces the charges his officers are recommending to him, that he is simply revenue raising.

We’re all in this together

The meeting to decide to accept the proposals to extend a parking tax in Westminster to evenings and Sundays will be decided at a cabinet meeting tomorrow (1st Aug 2011) led by the Council leader Cllr Barrow.

What hope has the ‘Big Society’ got when the meetings chairman is a millionaire hedge fund manager who drives around Westminster in a gas guzzling Maserati having given himself a borough wide free parking permit?

In fact seven out of the ten Westminster Council Conservative Cabinet members who will take the decision tomorrow to introduce parking charges in the West End on Sundays and after 6.30pm from Monday to Saturday, benefit from an All Zones Parking permit provided by the Council entitling them to free parking all over Westminster whenever they are on Council business. There are no checks that these permits are solely used on Council business only.

And you’re back in the room”.


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DavidJuly 31st, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Rowley = Chalkley
Same person, different name..

Its fairly clear that Lil’ Lowley has been hung out by his seniors.

Its fun and amusing to the established WCC hierarchy, and hilarious for all of us to watch the amusing, often comic and always sad Lee rarely getting off his hind feet.

Shame you stuffed it up on your first effort.



MartinAugust 15th, 2011 at 11:02 am

There are much more *basic* flaws with the occupancy figures used by WCC to (apparently) back up the “need” to introduce weekday and Sunday charging.

All this will do is drive people and business away from Westminster businesses during the extended charging hours, and exacerbate parking issues on Sundays before 1pm and after 6pm. This, no doubt, will in the future then demonstrtae the need for further charges at these remaining times, too!

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